Sunday, 29 November 2009

What Do I Have to do to get a Drink Around Here?

 And they say that Creative Commons photographs aren't as good as the real thing.  This was a must include, I am afraid!  Oh and here are a few cat quotes thrown in for good measure.

"A dog will flatter you but you have to flatter the cat."- George Mikes

"You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals."- George Mikes

"You own a dog but you feed a cat."- Jenny de Vries

"Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel. True, and they have many other fine qualities as well." - Missy Dizick

"One is never sure, watching two cats washing each other, whether it's affection, the taste or a trial run for the jugular."- Helen Thomson

"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." - Anonymous

"A cat sees no good reason why it should obey another animal, even if it does stand on two legs."- Sarah Thompson

"Cats are kindly masters, just so long as you remember your place."- Paul Gray

"One must love a cat on its own terms."- Paul Gray

Myths About Cats

Many people presuppose things about cats that turn out to be wrong - almost the opposite of what is correct in fact. Here, explodes some myths about cats.

Personally, I have always opted for canine friends over those of a feline nature.  The words of Charlotte Grey are, to me, so true: after scolding one's cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference.

Some Early Space Station Concepts and Designs: Ideas That Were Envisioned Before Their Time

The ideas of inventors and scientists of yesteryear often look amateurish and completely wrong-footed.  We can mock.  We regularly do.  However, without these ideas being bounced about, planned and projected there would never be any real progress as those ideas that do make it to reality would not have been given a chance either.

So it is and was with space travel.  Many of the ideas seem ludicrous to us but they should be remembered as part of the scientific struggle for progress and this interesting article by certainly does that.  Mind you, some of the ideas are closer to our truth than even the scientists involved may have envisioned.

Image Credit

Literary Agents Looking for New Writers

It is hard to get published.  Well, hard to get published on paper at least.  I know that on the internet we can just set up a blog et voila but in the real world of publishing where people get things like advances, it is incredibly hard to find an Agent.

However, all is not lost and here sets out .  Take a look - it may be the start of a glittering new career for you.

The 25 Most Googled Gay People

The by line on this article is you might be surprised.  I was surprised by some but not by a few who have been out of the proverbial closet for years.  It is also quite funny that one can almost instantly guess the sexuality of the writers who publish this type of article.

Here is the somewhat rather nonplused heterosexual.  However, with twenty five famous people included on this list it does seem that gay people, like other minorities, are finally getting the representation (if that is the right word) in the media report.

Talking of nonplused - for readers outside the US a number of these people will incline you to shrug your shoulders and say who?  Take a look though, an interesting list!

Image of Neil Patrick Harris, Creative Commons - thanks to

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Jedward X Factor Spoof Poster a Hit for the Labour Party

Politicians may come across as self-obsessed and humourless and why not?  That's usually what they are, after all.  However, someone in the marketing department of the Labour Party has got it spot on in their latest spoof poster.

The X-Factor favourites, Jedward, are seen to have morphed in to no less than Conservative leader David Cameron and his sometimes somewhat sinister Shadow Chancellor George Osborne.  Scarily, the poster tells the general public that "You Wo't Be Laughing If They Win."

Never a truer word spoken in jest!

The Labour Party Website features the poster with 'David Cameron and George Osborne are the Jedward of politics. Hilarious to watch. All spin and no substance. But you won’t be laughing if they win.'

And just in case you don't know what Jedward look like, here they are in all their glory.  Nice one, Labour.  Perhaps you are in touch with the people, after all!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Music to Stalk Your Ex by

We all have them - ex partners that is - whether they are wives, husbands or boyfirends and girlfriends.  When the end comes it is sometimes unpleasant.  Here, discovers ten songs that have some rather worrying lyrics - at least they are when placed on the kitchen table and sliced open with a knife.  Some of them really are quite a worry!

So, go take a look at by.

Photobooks Shouldn't Cost the Earth

I have been to a number of wonderful occasions over the last year or so - one or two weddings and a christening thrown in for good measure too.  Quite often the hosts want to remember the occasion and they have put in an order for a Premium Photobook afterwards only to be dismayed by the results.

I have discoverd recently a great place to ensure that Premium Photobooks are just that and what is more are for both the public and professional photographers.  That means that you don't have to go through a professional photographer to get them.  However, I know that professional photographers read this blog and Premium Photobooks can also be ordered with a trade discount.

These occasions are so important that - almost as importantly, it is vital that the Premium Photobook that you order is not a disappointment and place a shadow over the whole event.  So the trick is to find a provider that will give you top quality  but not at top prices.  Customer service is important too and when you buy a Premium Photobook you need to know that you will not just be treated as another customer number.

Spider Man and The Addams Family - the Musicals?

I guess it was only a matter of time before The Addams Family got the musical treatment - after all, there are many elements of the musical already in the story.  A fairly large family, each with their own unique characteristics just begs for a musical to be born from its storyline.  So it is, and the new Addams Family musical is with us already.  With the likes of Nathan Lane in the part of Gomez Addams it looks like it will be a surefire hit.  I would love to go and see it, for sure.  I have no doubt that must be going like hot cakes.

A little more difficult, perhaps, would be the concept of a musical about Spider-Man.  The superhero has millions of fans so I have no doubt that are no doubt one of the hot choices at the moment.  I know that theatrical effects have come a long way but I would love to get a behind the scenes look at how they are going to manage to propel Spidey from one side of the stage to another without him looking like Peter Pan on acid.  are already available and I am assured that the show is going to be mind blowing.  Mind you, the show is coming at us with a huge pedigree - the music and lyrics are by Bono and The Edge from the legendary rock band U2 - that bodes very well to begin with.  Plus the cast include the marvellous Alan Cumming and Rachel Evan Wood (pictured), taking some time off from Hollywood film duties.  Altogether it sounds like a wonderful stage experience.

Given the choice I am really not sure which production I would go and see - if I could do both then life would be almost perfect.  One thing is for sure though, and must be one of the popular theatre choices of the moment.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Ok Guys! Let's Hear It - Y-M-C-A - Altogether Now!

Let's face it, there is always someone at any family get together who hits the free bar a little too, well, freely and then expects everyone to join in with their pretty shocking dance routines based on acts that were around for five minutes in the seventies and eighties.  Of course, if you have any sense you will simply ignore Uncle Jack and hope that, sooner or later, he will go away. Or collapse in a corner to sleep it off.  Either way, hope springs eternal.

In the meantime, though, altogether now! Y-M-C-A!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Mystique, Magic, Myths and Superstitions of Mirrors

Mirror,  Mirror, on the wall...
Who's the fairest of them all?

Well, you don't have to be rude!

Instead, why not take a look at this most interesting piece by

From the article:
Mirrors have a certain mystique about them, which gives rise to beliefs, magic, myths, legends and superstitions. Amongst many things they have been seen as a “tool of the devil”, a “catcher” of the soul, a harbinger of things to come, a portal to another dimension and a source of bad luck.  But what are these beliefs myths and superstitions and where do they come from?
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Two Banned Animals That Make Better Pets Than Dogs

Well, they are banned in many places - but they do make better pets than dogs, quite often.  It does of course depend on your definition of better and pet, I guess but were I to consider sharing my home with anything else other than my fellow large mammals then I think I would consider these guys.  gives us the low down on these possible pets - and of course we're not going to tell you what animals he is writng about - you have to read his article by clicking the READ MORE HERE link!

From the article:
My wife and I do not own any dogs, but have found that some animals make just as good pets, or even better. If for some reason you cannot have a dog, or just do not want one, these are great alternatives, however they are illegal as urban pets in most areas.

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Why Jedward Should Win The X-Factor

Personally, these boys epitomize for me the true meaning of that old eighties metaphor evil twins, but give them their due, the boys on the X-Factor have gained themselves as many friends as enemies.  Not so one of my elderly female relatives who was recently heard to hiss that, had she been their mother, she would have allowed them to slip in the bath when young.  Ah, my family.  Enough of me and mine, however - let's go over to who, I assure you, is quite sane.  Well, I thought she was, till now!

From the article
John and Edward Grimes, now known as ‘Jedward’ have ignited a large amount of debate surrounding the UK’s annual X-Factor show. It’s clear they have fans because millions of people vote for them each week. Now, it’s no secret they are the worse singers of all the present acts (and possibly all the acts that ever graced the X-Factor stage), yet they continue to hang on by a large margin of votes. Last Saturday for the first time, they were in the bottom two acts and viewers thought that this was the big chance to see them go. No one expected what happened next.


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Friday, 13 November 2009

The Manhattan Bridge Turns 100

Considered highly experimental at the time, December 2009 sees the one hundredth anniversary of the opening to the public of the Manhattan Bridge.  Although it has survived a century the design, construction and maintenance has been no walk in the park thanks to something called deflection theory.

A hundred years ago, the citizens of New York were in an anticipatory mood.  After eight years of planning and construction the third and last suspension bridge – the Manhattan - to cross the lower East River was nearing completion and would open for traffic on 31 December 1909.  The bridge is still there, one hundred years later.  Landmark, film and TV star, popular place of suicide but still above all a fantastic piece of early twentieth century engineering the bridge has seen many a President come and go but remains one of New York’s most treasured edifices.  Although it has often been overshadowed by its more elegant and famous neighbors, let’s take a look at the life and times of the Manhattan Bridge.

The preparatory work on the bridge started in 1901.  The bridge has had a troubled history over the years and this began at the design stage.  The intention was to relieve the huge amount of traffic going over the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge would, ultimately, be damned by its own success.  The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Bridges (they didn’t do acronyms then half as well as we do), Gustov Lindenthal’s first design was thrown out purely for reasons of aesthetics.  He came back with another idea – incorporating two thin-profile steel towers.  This idea was retained but his main plan – four cables made of immense chains of eye bars (lengths of steel at least ten foot long joined at each end by steel pins) was again rejected.  Perhaps the thought of what was essentially a gargantuan bicycle chain put the chills up the spine of the city fathers.

1904 saw a new mayor and, with him, a new bridge commissioner.  Enter Leon Moiseeiff a bridge designer with many ideas before his time.  His design was a suspension bridge as well band it was to keep the idea of the thin towers.  However, it got rid of the idea of the bicycle chain bridge by suggesting steel wire instead.  Most critical in difference, however, was Moiseeiff’s adherence to a bridge engineering principle that was astonishingly modern and new – a principle known as deflection theory.

Deflection theory supposed – and still does – that suspension bridges are in fact much stronger than they seem, on paper, to be. To a modern readership, a Google search for deflection theory will get results as much about the seduction of women as the building of bridges, but this is a usurpation of its original meaning.  The theory was first put across only in 1888 – and technology did not move along quite as quickly then as it does today so in the first decade of the twentieth century it was still a dazzlingly new concept.  The theory held that suspension bridges did not need the enormous stiffening trusses used on the like of the Williamsburg Bridge just down the river.

The ideas were brilliant – and the design was adopted.  However, as with any theory, steps are made to its perfection by a system of trial and error.  The Manhattan Bridge was, unfortunately, to become one of those errors.  In fact, deflection theory was not to be perfected for decades.  What this ultimately means is that the Manhattan Bridge – although massive, huge, enormous – any number of adjectives can apply – was effectively underbuilt.  It could have been worse, of course.  Moiseeiff later went on to design the infamous Tacoma Narrow Bridge in Washington.  It opened in July 1940 and collapsed in November of the same year.  Although no people died it did claim the life of a Cocker Spaniel called Tubby.

Not that the Manhattan Bridge was without its own extremely serious problems.  Moiseeiff and his fellow designer Ralph Modjeski put the subway and streetcar lines on the outer edges of the roadway.  The streetcar lanes – by general desire – were replaced by car lanes after the Second World War but it was the decision to place them at the edge of the roadway that was to cause the problems.  As the trains and cars inexorably moved across the bridge, their load placed an unending and serious twisting strain on the deck of the bridge – which was only lightly reinforced.  This meant continual headaches for maintenance crews and eventually – in the 1980s – a long term reconstruction plan was finally put in to place.  It ended in 2007 which only goes to show the problems that had to be overcome.

Still, the bridge held and stood its ground.  People never fail to be impressed by the stone archway which serves as the entrance to the Manhattan side.  The Brooklyn approach is – without a doubt – less impressive and grand.  In fact, the original statues, bronze allegories of Brooklyn and Manhattan, were dismantled in the sixties so that traffic flow could be improved.  They can still be found in the Brooklyn Museum.

Image by author

The bridge spans 1470 feet and links the Bowery and Canal Street with Flatbush Avenue.  Gentrification near the bridge – and let’s face it, what a view - has introduced another acronym to the world.  Once known as Fulton Landing the neighborhood is now known as DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.  Perhaps, though, because of its association with suicide, the pedestrian walkway was closed down in 1941 and did not re-open till 2001.  This walkway was also used by cyclists until 2004 when a dedicated cycle path was introduced.  These are, of course, in addition to the four vehicle lanes (two going each way) placed on the upper level and the four subway tracks (ditto) on the lower.

The arches under the bridge are as impressive as what lies above. Wondering what happened to Lindenthal – the spurned engineer?  He maintained a huge grudge against the mayor and the designers throughout the construction of the bridge and lost no time criticizing, whenever he could, the overblown budgets, political corruption and delays endemic during that particular administration.  Mayor McClellan, eager to proved him wrong, ordered work to be stepped up – some might say rushed.  However, the four main cables were spun over the river in just four months.  And the budget?  Although it seems tiny by our own financial excesses, the original cost of building the bridge has been put at thirty one million dollars. 

On the opening day, 31 December 1909, Mayor McClellan and his entourage were to progress – symbol of the patrician class of New York – grandly across the bridge.  Unfortunately, the roadway wasn’t finished so they had to get out of their cars and walk the final one hundred yards.  At least one person had dies – quite gruesomely – in the construction of the bridge.  Remember poor John McShane – if and when you cross the bridge.  In early April 1909, compressed air escaped from a pipe powering a riveting hammer escaped and struck him full on.  He was blown clear of the bridge and plummeted one hundred and twenty feet to his death – ironically in to the contactor’s yard.

Although often overshadowed by the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan has had roles in many famous movies too.  It is featured heavily in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America and featured in the hugely successful Ghostbusters.  Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong also features the bridge as does the Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend.  Its reputation for being a favorite spot for suicide attempts has Steve Martin meet Judith Ivy on the bridge in 1984.  So, although not as famous as its neighbor, the Manhattan Bridge still has allure.  Robin Williams’ character in The Fisher King lives below the bridge on the Brooklyn side.

Sometimes considered unlovely and often overlooked, happy one hundredth birthday to the Manhattan Bridge.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Great Googols: How Large is a Googol in Real Terms?

Good question.  We all know that Google took its name from a mispelling of the word Googol but what exactly is one when it's at home?  This article explains it pretty well, with some great comparisons too which help us get our heads around such an enormous number.

From the article:
How many grains of sand are there on the beach at Coney Island in New York City? How many raindrops fall on London in a year? What is the number of words that have been spoken in all the history of mankind? How many electrons are there in a thimbleful of air?

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Lavender: Nature’s First Aid Plant

Lavender - it looks gorgeous and it has all sorts of medicinal uses.  If you can, try and avoid humming dilly, dilly while you read through this article, but to be honest, now I have put the tune in your head, you may well find that impossible.

From the article:
Lavender is perhaps one of the best known of essential oils and it is the perfect addition to the home first aid kit. Lavandula officinalis has dozens of uses around the home. It has an uplifting fragrance and can be used in every room of the house, including the laundry, but it is also very versatile as a treament for everyday ailments.


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The Amazing Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge Nears Completion

A little while ago, Webphemera featured the amazing construction project that is the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.  Since then considerable work has been added to the structure and it is nearer to completion by quite a way.

From the article:
This picture of the Hoover Bypass Bridge was taken from Lake Mohave by boat in September 2009.  You can clearly see how the supporting cable system has now been removed and the arch is now free standing.  This marvelous image captures the sheer scale and grandeur of the project and proves that sometimes, when it comes to photography, looking up is just as effective as looking down.


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Is It a Spider? is It an Octopus? No, It’s an Echinoderm!

Not sure what one is?  Take a look at this article which explains it.  What makes it all the more unusual, however, is it features one called Stan, who is very unusual indeed!  It would make me a very bad man indeed to reproduce the picture of Stan here - go take a look on the article...

From the article:
Stan, as he’s been named, was caught off the coast of Cornwall in a local fisherman’s crab pot and was promptly delivered to the Blue Reef Aquariun in Newquay for their opinion.


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10 Foods Named After People

When I first saw the link to this article I thought I could easily name ten foods named after people but I came to a halt after four.  So, with no more ado, take yourself off to this article written by Alistair Briggs and find out ten of them for yourself!

I won't do the usual exerpt from the article as that would give the game away.  The lady on the right might give you a clue to one of those who had food named after them - if you know your history of course.


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Astronomical Clocks - Literally and Metaphorically

Astronomical clocks can be found the world over, but the lion's share is located in Europe.  From Prague to Well, Lund to Strasbourg these magnificent and ancient mechanisms combine astronomy, astrology and time-keeping.  The work that must have gone in to these clocks is simply breathtaking.

From the article:
The term atronomical
clock is one that is used fairly loosely.  Effectively any clock that shows astronomical information – as well as the time – can be so classified.  They can show the location of the sun in the sky, for example.  In addition to that they can show the position of the moon – and further information such as its phase and its age.  Others go further and show the current sign of the zodiac or even go as far as showing a rotating map of the stars.  We will begin with perhaps the most famous example, the Orloj of Prague.

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Aerosmith Breaks Up - The End of an Institution

Aerosmith - every one has an opinion about them  The news is in, however, that one of rock's most longlived groups has come to an end.  What?  WIthout even an extensive goodbye tour?  Here, mnofdichotomy takes a look at their career, with the help of a number of YouTube videos.  Don't bother going to the website, just use this article to play back all your favourite Aerosmith tunes.  You can sob lightly in to handkerchief while you do it if you like.

From the article:
There are great rock bands, and there are legends.  Aerosmith falls easily into the latter category; they rank with the likes of Kiss, Led Zeppelin, and Metallica as not only one of the most influential bands of all time, but one with one ofe the most remarkable stretches of longevity that pop music has ever seen.  They have spanned 4 entire decades, reaching multiple generations and creating what will forever be some of Rock and Roll’s classics.

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Hanging With The Homebirds - Upside Down!

Some birds like nothing more than hanging around - either with their friends or simply on their own. Strange, though, how many seem to enjoy doing it upside down. Take a look at these birds and their peculiar positions.  And please don't worry - without getting all Monty Python on you, the little fellah below is most certainly not a dead parrot.

From the article:
It most certainly looks funny, if not sometimes hilarious. However, many first time bird owners get a little worried when Polly stands on her head as it were. Can you imagine, you have begun to love your little avian amigo and then you come down the stairs on morning to be greeted with your pet vertically recumbent and unmoving, Little wonder so many bird owners take a while to see the funny side the first time it happens. Frici the lovebird above looks as if it is ready for the oven (though he is quite safe – proof further down the article). So why do birds sometimes like to hang out upside down?

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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Michael Bublé in Concert

Tickets make a great present for you know what and it's a great time at the moment to get tickets for that live act you have or your loved ones always wanted to catch.  Certainly, the next few months in the UK promises to be a treat for fans of live music. There are many acts that are keenly anticipated for these concerts. Tickets are being snapped up even as we speak, literally.

One of the most eagerly awaited artists who will be performing in the UK soon will be Michael Bublé, the Canadian singer who found global success in 2005 with his album It’s Time. If you like a combination of big band, jazz with a very contemporary twist then this is the singer for you.  Tickets are available for his UK gigs in June of 2010.

It wasn’t a straightforward path to success for Bublé – he worked for many years on the party circuit before finally being spotted by the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister. He was introduced from there to a famous music producer and the rest, as they say is history.

Now, wherever he plays, Michael Bublé Tickets are sold out almost immediately, unless you know where to go for them, of course. To see why, take a look at the YouTube video below. This is his recent song Haven’t Met You Yet and is a perfect example of his easy but accessible music.

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